Lumen Review: Does "Metabolism Hacking" Make Sense?

Lumen Review: Does "Metabolism Hacking" Make Sense?

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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. All statements are merely the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to metabolism and weight loss.

Lumen is a tech company with a bold claim: that a breathing device can help you “hack your metabolism” to increase fat loss, lose weight, and boost energy naturally.

In this article we’ll review whether there is any medical research proving Lumen to be effective for weight loss, and share our thoughts on whether metabolism tracking is necessary or beneficial for weight loss. We'll critically assess some health claims made by Lumen that we find to be questionable.

Does Lumen Work? 

Lumen’s value proposition centers on a concept called "metabolic flexibility," which refers to the body’s ability to shift between burning fat or carbs as a primary energy source.

Metabolic flexibility is a legitimate medical concept. A medical review published in the Cell Metabolism journal in 2017 analyzed how metabolic flexibility is associated with health and disease.

The study authors described how metabolic inflexibility may contribute to poor health. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates breaks down and becomes less efficient due to beta cell dysfunction. A healthy person has no issue switching between fat or carbs as a source of energy, but an unhealthy person may struggle with either or both.

A more recent medical review explored the topic of metabolic flexibility in more detail, explaining many factors that influence it. Gastrointestinal peptide release, natural hormone production and mitochondrial function were all listed as factors which can determine metabolic flexibility.

The second review is more interesting than the first, because it also outlines research-backed ways to improve metabolic flexibility. Lifestyle interventions are effective for countering metabolic inflexibility, according to the scientists.

Exercise (both aerobic and anaerobic), normalization of weight for overweight and obese individuals, interruption of sedentary behavior like short walks during work, and supplementation of certain amino acids like l-carnitine are all suggested to improve metabolic flexibility based on research.

While the general concept behind Lumen is legitimate, we cannot identify any medical research suggesting that Lumen improves health or weight loss beyond standard lifestyle changes.

Basically, the standard healthy lifestyle recommendations most people are used to hearing seem to be the biggest factors in enhancing metabolic flexibility.

Lumen claims to measure carbon dioxide levels in the breath to determine a “flex score” that shows consumers how flexible their metabolism is. It’s important to note that neither medical review we examined mentioned carbon dioxide levels at all.

In our opinion, whether or not Lumen can effectively track various indirect measures of metabolism doesn't matter, because it's illogical to pursue weight loss based on those measures. We do believe Lumen is likely to be effective at tracking what the company claims it can track, but what's the point of doing so if it cannot improve health beyond making healthy lifestyle changes like eating whole foods and exercising?

Questionable Health Claims

Lumen makes many uncited health claims on their website that we find to be extremely questionable.

Lumen did publish a medical trial proving that their device can accurately measure whether carbs or fats are being used as a source of fuel, but there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that this information can help optimize metabolic flexibility beyond the basic recommendations we’ve already covered.

Why does it matter whether a person is burning fat or carbs for fuel if they’re healthy? The entire premise behind the company is confusing to us.

Lumen makes bold claims about the general health benefits of metabolic flexibility, but doesn’t explain how their device helps achieve that. Under a “How can we improve metabolic flexibility” header, Lumen gives generic advice like “Exercise” – that’s good advice, but why pay for a hardware device telling you to exercise? 

We also disagree with the company's claims of enhanced fat burn and weight loss, because there appear to be no medical studies proving that Lumen causes weight loss.

If someone buys a phone app that buzzes to tell them to go for a run, the phone app doesn’t “melt away fat,” the fact that they went for a run does. Lumen is the phone app in this analogy; a device that may suggest healthy practices, but doesn’t directly cause any physical changes, so we consider it to be a waste of money and disagree with the health claims made by the brand.

Dietitian Explains Whether Lumen is Legit or Not

One of the most popular YouTube reviews of Lumen is published by a channel called "Abbey Sharp." The creator is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and gives her take on whether or not Lumen is legit. It's a well-researched video in our opinion, and appears unsponsored:

Lumen Real User Review

A YouTube channel called "Fitness & Finance" published a review on Lumen that appears to be unsponsored. The creator used the device for three months and shares his honest opinion on it:

Our Clean Weight Loss Picks

There are food-based nutrients which have been shown in medical studies to be effective for weight loss.

Dietary fiber was shown in a medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition to cause 16 pounds of weight loss in 6 months when combined with moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline).

Supergut Fiber Mix is our top fiber supplement, because it contains three different types of fiber powder, and retails for only $1.75 per serving at a subscription rate.

MCT oil was shown in a meta-study to cause more than one pound of weight loss over 10 weeks. This equates to potential annualized weight loss of 6 pounds per year with less than one tablespoon's worth of MCT oil per day.

Bulletproof MCT Oil is our top MCT oil product, because the only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts. and it currently costs only $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.

Ginger intake "significantly decreased body weight" according to a 2019 meta-study on ginger and weight loss that analyzed data from 14 clinical trials.

Pique La Ginger is our top ginger product, because it's an organic tea in convenient crystallized form, and all that's needed is to pour the powder into a glass and add hot water.

All three of the products mentioned in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy or unsafe.

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While we don't see any harm in its use, we do not recommend Lumen because we cannot identify any evidence that it's more effective for weight loss or general health than lifestyle changes alone. 

Like many biometric technologies we've reviewed on Illuminate Health, Lumen tracks data that we find to be totally useless for the purpose of weight loss or optimizing health. 

We would recommend simply engaging in healthy lifestyle modifications like increased exercise and eating a healthy diet, since clinical research proves these things to improve metabolic flexibility.

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